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Ask HN: Tons of ideas, zero products.
17 points by maxvs 1389 days ago | hide | past | web | 21 comments | favorite
Hi.

I have a problems which I don't know how to solve. I consider myself a creative person and some time ago I had 2 ideas which I think have potential to succeed (I did short evaluation of those ideas: there is a market, there is no/very little competition, people I talked to say good things about my ideas). However, I don't know how to/where to start.

My first problem is my personality: I always procrastinated a lot, I always had ideas which I dind't implement, very often I started project and abandoned it, I always had a lot of dreams and done just a few of them. Some time ago I decided to change this and I'm really doing this with my life. I procrastinate very seldom, I'm very motivated to succeed, I study a lot (I'm in college), every day I'm a better person. But I still can't find cure for my "not-starting"/"starting-and-abandoning" project problem. I really want to change this, I'd really appreciate your ideas/suggestions. I'm sure I'm not the only one with such issue.

My second problem: I'm located in Eastern Europe, which is not the best place for startups. I don't need much money to implement my idea(s), but I have no idea how to promote it. I think USA (and SV especially) is the best to start a company not because it's easier to find investors, but because of connections/people you can meet which can be very helpful to promote your products. YC companies succeed because of the attention they get from the tech/business world (at least in my humble opinion). So: let's say I build my product - what's next? How to promote it (with no/little money)?

I'm young, I'm ignorant, I have a lot of flaws. I've been reading HN for more than a year now, I know most of you are waaay intelligent than me (and it's very good for me -- I love learning from people who are better). I hope you can help me. Posting here is my first step to defeat my biggest flaw and, maybe, changing my life.

Thank you.

(Sorry for bad spelling, feel free to correct my errors).




I had this problem and they way I tackled it was I don't allow myself to talk about anything I'm working on, not to anyone at all. Only what I've done. If I'm exited about an idea I really want to share it, but once i have a "wouldn't it be cool if" conversation the motivation burns off. Now just built a minimal version to show someone. And then I'm not like "in the full version we could do feature X", I just keep my mouth shut and it makes me really want to add feature X. I dunno, it works for me.


Cool for motivation but it's also really nice to have conversations about features before implementing them so you can flesh out the idea and bounce it off someone else.


Get someone to kick your ass.

I did it for a friend of mine who had been trying to write a novel for 20 years. Same kind of problem, lots of ideas, no execution. So I worked with him, set-up deadlines and deliverables (one 10 page chapter every 2 weeks) and I got to 'kick his ass' if he didn't deliver. (Creative ass kicking, ie once he was late with delivery and had to take me out drinking with him, and he had to buy me his favorite shot and watch me enjoy it while he could only sit and drink beer: he never delivered late again)End story, he got the book written; once it was written he was able to iterate until it was in publishable form (5 extra drafts, but once it was actually done, he had no problem going through and re-writing heavily - the biggest hurdle was just to write the thing completely. It got accepted for publication by a small publisher who worked on the book for a year but then went bankrupt. So we ended up self publishing it and it has been doing reasonably well so far. Now he is halfway through his second novel, no ass kicking needed. sometimes just completing something unblocks you.

Now you could find a good friend to do this for you, or you could put up a blog and use the public for an ass-kicking mentor (the internet is unmerciful if you promise to deliver something but don't, good motivation to execute :)

I'm in EE region too (Prague, ex-pat for 8 years now) so drop me a line if you need a boot in the butt to get going on your project (yes, only choose one to start, once that's complete knock yourself out multitasking).

I have experience in this type of work :)


An ass kicker is huge. Sometimes you just need that extra push to get the ball rolling.

Look into joining nReduce.

Or join us at VocalTap. We host monthly video chats among startups so they can share their progress and provide insight and direction on execution. Email me if you're interested!


Personally, I like to write ideas down as they come but prefer to let them stew there for a while. My problem is that I get excited about something initially but that excitement fades over time especially when I get to the point where I have to do something hard and/or not fun.

So generally I'll try to do one of two things:

1) Find a partner. I find it a lot easier to get going and a lot harder to quit when there's someone else going through it with you; sort of like going to the gym...

2) Pick an idea that still excites me even after sitting in my list for a while. If I'm going to go it alone, whatever it is has to be important enough to me that I still care after that initial honeymoon. This time is really valuable to me personally. I find that in the beginning I focus on potential but given some time I'll eventually come back to earth and think more about what needs to be done, all the steps, and potential roadblocks. After all that, if I'm still excited to tackle the problem, I have at least some confidence that I'll have the conviction to push through the hard times.

Fair warning, my current list is long and the number completed is still zero (abandoned projects is also zero). I have just started working on something recently though, so there is some hope. I guess this is really a long winded way of saying try to find something that you're really passionate about, don't waste time on things you aren't, and don't get discouraged if you haven't found it yet.


I don't know if you're still following this post, but find the one thing you want most from your product and build it. It may be shitty, but that's okay. It's a process. Don't procrastinate over perfection. Take it step by step. Want by want. If it's a good enough idea to you, you'll figure out a way to make it. Period. If not, you don't want it bad enough, which may be a strong indication no one else wants it either. Find your annoyance. Hope this helps.


I'm following :). I'm really glad I posted my question on HN, I received really good advices. Thanks for yours!


You're welcome. If you need anything else, just pm me @rooshdi and I'll try my best to help.


For problem one: Pick one of your ideas (your favorite, or the one with the least competition, bonus if it's both of those things) and then ignore the other(s). Work the one project until you feel you've done all you can do. At some point, getting project A off the ground is going to get hard, and this is when you'll be tempted to move onto project B. This is also when you must focus on A even harder, and act like B doesn't even exist. If you don't learn with A, you'll run into the same issues with B and will be holding onto 2 abandoned projects eventually.

For problem two: You're right that connections are key but don't think that these connections only exist in SV or the USA. Go to every startup/tech/niche related event that you can in your area. Even if you never meet someone that is 'directly' connected, you're likely to meet people who are connected indirectly, or with access to a hub/outlet that you may have never thought of. If you make enough noise in Easter Europe, SV will come to you.


The only way I've found to get around the starting and abandoning problem, is to actually FINISH something.

Next idea you start, cut it in half. Make it the smallest thing possible. Just FINISH it. That will get you motivated and the next time you can go bigger and bigger.

Don't worry about promotion yet. Just try and make something cool. Putting a post on HN or Reddit or something can go a long way.


Seconded. Small has always worked best for me.

I used to get projects as far as I could then they'd stop when they needed skills outside of my abilities or because I was over-reaching i.e worrying about scaling issues 20mins into the idea.

I started picking tiny projects I could definitely execute fully myself with a set end point e.g get the site launched. Now everything I start ends up finished because I only need my own skills.


So simple, heh. Thank you for this advice, I'm going to try and check if it works for me.


I thought I'd add a meta-comment about this discussion: even with a half dozen comments, there are already the answers in here you're looking for (break a project down into _tiniest possible_ pieces, then feel good about accomplishing each tiny piece; get a friend to kick your ass or make a public commitment to something).

Some on this thread have said, basically, stop whining and start building. When someone asks for advice, that's not generally the greatest response. But, you asked your question, and you have your answer. You don't need to figure out every little nuance to try to achieve some maximal level of momentum. THAT is what can often get you stuck. You've got some great advice, so: Go implement it!

And more than that, come back to HN on Monday and show us the cool weekend project you made. I'll be looking for it.


I will return with something. Not this monday, maybe not next, but I will return. And I'll be looking for your comment ;).


A couple of things that have helped me:

1. Start with something small that you will commit to finishing 100%. Even if it's something you can do in a weekend--make it fun. Usually it helps to solve problems that you have that you are very familiar with and you know can address. Maybe people in your class or college/university have a problem you can solve.

2. Do something outside your comfort zone. Get a part-time job doing something you're interested in that you have no experience in. Start a new hobby or join groups in your community, college, etc. that are new to you. Connecting with people will help you build people skills and find problems that people need solving.


Write all of your ideas down... something simple. No need for a lengthy description, you'll know what you're referring to. Something like this:

- Traffic app - Weather app - Better twitter app - foursquare for dogs

If you've got them written down, one of them will eventually scream your name begging to be worked on. As for actually doing it... well... your experience with procrastination is not unique. We've all been there. Self-motivation is one of the most difficult things to achieve when you're so used to bouncing all over the place. Just sit down one night with a 6 pack and start. Don't wait too long after your idea otherwise the inspiration will wear off.


Thanks for writing this. Other than age, we have a lot in common :). I guess as most people are saying, ass kicking is important and someone has to be on your case. It is all about getting out of comfort zone. The way I am trying to do it is do 1 thing out of my comfort zone every day. Whatever that thing could be. This way, you can build discipline. For example, I have started waking up 45 mins earlier than usual in morning which gives me time for a basic workout.


simple: Decide on one project you want to work on, and each morning, spend the very first hour working on that project. Just 1 hour first thing in the morning. After a month, you will have put 30 hours into the project and should have gotten it off the ground. It's the first part that's hard, and if you have see a huge mountain to climb, it's hard to get started. But in this case, it's simply 1 hour each morning. That's it.


Not sure what you want to hear from us. If you want to learn to go through with things, just.. go through with them!


First: If you can't even start something, no amount of "connections" will do you any good whatsoever. But it sure is nice to fantasize that if you were somewhere else, it'd be easy. (It wouldn't be.) That's one insidious kind of excuse.

Your whole posts makes it sound like you're making excuses instead of actually trying to change.

Asking for advice from strangers is not really taking a step, is it? You're putting your salvation in their hands. There's no guarantee you'll get a single useful response. And if you don't, what will your natural reaction be? To go "OH well, same thing again"?

You're giving up power, instead of taking it.

Which sounds like your core problem.

How can you take power, take control?


> If you can't even start something, no amount of "connections" will do you any good whatsoever.

I know this. Second question is not directely connected to the first one, I wrote "let's say I build my product" and asked about its promotion.

> Your whole posts makes it sound like you're making excuses instead of actually trying to change.

I don't think I'm making excuses. I'm aware I have problem and ask for some possible solutions. However you are (at least partialy) right about giving up power. This is a good point. I'm in the proccess of taking control, I'm really changing for better. I've changed some parts of my life I couldn't change in the past (because in the past I was just talking about that, without any real action), and still there is a lot to improve. And you know what? Responses here are really valuable for me, now I see the path I should go to change one of the worst of my flaws.

Thanks for your input.




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